While big brands have long sought to be recognized as thought leaders in particular business areas, it’s now just as important for your own personal brand. Quora provides the platform for you to show your expertise across multiple subject areas and get you noticed, not just by your CV, but by the quality of your writing and knowledge.
In this article, I’ll look at how Quora can help you to find the right opportunities and have the right opportunities find you.
What is Quora?
Quora is a real-time questions and answers service. Launched in June 2009, it soon found a core audience in the Silicon Valley tech industry. This proved pivotal in driving uptake, as questions, especially from journalists, were getting answered by the people uniquely positioned to answer them. It has managed to stay relevant and authoritative as it has grown, blossoming into a vibrant and energetic community.
Quora: there are questions on a variety of topics, here it’s ‘How to get started as a freelancer’.
In Quora, anybody can post a question or an answer. Questions are divided into topics to make them easy to locate, and users can choose to follow individual questions or topics, receiving notifications whenever the question is updated. Answers can be voted up or down by users, dependent on their quality. The result of this is a series of questions with the best and most popular answers most visible.
Two newer additions are boards and credits. Boards allow users to curate content into pages where they can save interesting content from within Quora or on other sites. Other users can up- and down-vote content on a board in the same way that they can vote on a standard answer.
Credits are an in-service virtual currency. Credits can be earned by answering questions, getting your answers up-voted and also getting users to follow questions that you have asked. These earned credits can then be spent asking individual users to answer questions directly. All new users start with 500 credits to get them started. Both of these features can be used to your advantage.
How do I make the most of Quora?
1. Play your part
To establish yourself as an expert, answering questions is more important than asking them. By answering questions you start to build your online brand and create a marketable presence. Make sure you answer questions regularly, perhaps daily or weekly. To get people to vote your answer to the top of the pile, your answers should be considered, timely and authoritative. This is all about showing the depth and breadth of your knowledge. However, you should also choose your questions carefully; it may be difficult to make your answers stand out on overly popular questions. Find questions where your voice can be heard.
2. Follow the right topics
Identify the topic areas in which you have expertise – it will be where you can make the most impact. Follow them and make sure that you check each topic for new questions on a regular basis – getting the first answer in isn’t imperative, but it certainly helps get you noticed.
Other users can see the topics you follow on your profile, so these can form a good basis for showing others your interests. For each topic you follow, it’s also possible to write a short description of your experience in that topic. Make use of it to show people why they should read your contributions; the description gets shown next to your answer.
3. Follow the right people
Follow the thought-leaders within your own sphere of expertise and influence. These power users have a lot of followers, which will in turn get your answer a lot of visibility. The most erudite and revealing answers are not always from the most prominent users. Getting more up-votes on answers than established industry thought-leaders can be a powerful personal branding opportunity. Like many of the social networks, there are also many people who follow back if you follow them, so use them to swell your follower numbers.
4. Create your own board
Creating your own board is another good way to highlight your expertise and interests. Boards can include your own questions and answers on Quora, personal blog posts, paid blog posts and external articles, so can be used to showcase your contributions across many channels. Don’t be afraid to show your own work, even if it deals with niche subjects, Quora is a social network that relies on people’s expertise. If you have it, make sure that people know it. A good portfolio will help give your contributions more impact.
5. Fill out your profile
The profile section within Quora is pretty basic, but should not be ignored. A good title and bio is essential, and don’t forget a picture, it’s a crime to be seen with the ‘anonymous’ default image. If you want to stand out, make sure that people can put a face to the name. Finally, to increase visibility, make sure your contact permissions are open (allowing people to contact you and comment on your posts) and you’ve connected your other social networks.
How do I know I’ve been successful?
You’ll have some catching up to do to get as popular as Robert Scoble, but there’s no doubt that his influence is massive. He’s topical, opinionated and active.
While all success is relative, here are four ways to measure your influence.
- People pay you to answer – if users are paying you their hard-earned credits to get your opinion, then you are definitely sending out the right messages.
- People vote up your answers – good answers do get voted up, so if you find that your answers are regularly getting user’s votes, you can be sure that they are doing their job.
- People follow you – like any social platform, good content drives followers. If you are producing good answers on a regular basis (or asking good questions), you should see the number of followers swell.
- People start to contact you – best of all, if you’re getting involved and making an impact, you should get people contacting you. Make sure you have included a link to your personal homepage or to another social media account in your profile; users will not always contact you directly through Quora.
Why wait? Get started!
If you want any more proof, a certain editor not far from this blog once said to me: “I actually got in contact with a number of freelancers by seeing their answers on Quora.” For me, that seals the deal.
What are you waiting for? Get involved. Here’s some links from Quora to get you started.